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Court of the State for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
So ordered. MR. JUSTICE BREWER and MR. JUSTICE WHITE did not hear the argument and took no part in the decision of this case.
FITZPATRICK v. UNITED STATES.
ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
DISTRICT OF ALASKA.
Submitted April 30, 1900. - Decided May 28, 1900.
Under the Court of Appeals Act of March 3, 1891, a conviction for murder
is a “conviction of a capital crime," though the jury qualify their verdict of guilty by adding the words “ without capital punishment.” The test of a capital crime is not the punishment which is imposed, but that
which may be imposed under the statute. Under the statute of Oregon requiring the offence to be stated “in ordi
nary and concise language and in such manner as to enable a person of common understanding to know what was intended," an indictment for murder charging that the defendunt feloniously, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated malice inflicted upon the deceased a mortal wound of which he instantly died is a sufficient allegation of premeditated and
deliberate malice in killing him. Evidence that one jointly indicted with the defendant was found to have
been wounded in the shoulder, and his accompanying statement that he
had been shot, were held to be competent upon the trial of the defendant. Any fact which had a bearing upon the question of defendant's guilt immediate or remote and occurring at any time before the incident was closed, was held proper for the consideration of the jury, although statements made by other defendants in, his absence implicating him
with the murder would not be competent. The prisoner taking the stand in his own behalf and swearing to an alibi
was held to have been properly cross-examined as to the clothing worn by him on the night of the murder, his acquaintance with the others jointly indicted with him, and other facts showing his connection with
them. Where an accused party waives his constitutional privilege of silence and
takes the stand in his own behalf and makes his own statement, the prosecution has a right to cross-examire him upon such statement with
Statement of the Case.
the same latitude as would be exercised in the case of an ordinary wit
ness as to the circumstances connecting him with the alleged crime. Evidence in rebuttal with respect to the effect of light from the flash of a
revolver was held to be competent where the defence put in a calendar, apparently for the purpose of showing the time the moon rose that night.
This was a writ of error to review the conviction of Fitzpatrick, who was jointly indicted with Henry Brooks and William Corbett for the murder of Samuel Roberts, on March 13, 1898, at Dyea, in the Territory of Alaska.
The indictment, omitting the formal parts, was as follows:
“The said Jobn Fitzpatrick, IIenry Brooks and William Corbett at or near Dyea, within the said district of Alaska, and within the jurisdiction of this court, and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, on the 13th day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninetyeight, did unlawfully, wilfully, knowingly, feloniously, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated malice make an, assault upon one Samuel Roberts, and that they, the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett, a certain revolver, then and there charged with gunpowder and leaden bullets, which said revolver they, the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett, in their hands then and there had and held, then and there feloniously, purposely and of deliberate and premeditated malice did discharge and shoot off to, against and upon the said Samuel Roberts; and that said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett with one of the bullets aforesaid out of the revolver aforesaid then and there by force of the gunpowder aforesaid by the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett, discharged and shot off as aforesaid then and there feloniously, purposely and with deliberate and premeditated malice did strike, penetrate and wound him, the said Samuel Roberts, in and upon the right breast of him, the said Samuel Roberts, then and there with the leaden bullet aforesaid so as aforesaid discharged and shot out of the revolver aforesaid by the said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett, in and upon the right breast of him the said Samuel Roberts one
Opinion of the Court.
mortal wound, of which said mortal wound he, the said Samuel Roberts, instantly died, and so the grand jurors duly selected, empaneled, sworn and charged as aforesaid upon their oaths do say: That said John Fitzpatrick, Henry Brooks and William Corbett did then and there kill and murder the said Samuel Roberts in the manner and form aforesaid, contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States of America.
“ BUR'ron E. BENNETT,
“ U. S. District Attorney."
After a demurrer to the indictment, which was overruled, and a motion for a continuance, which was denied, Brooks and Corbett moved and obtained an order for separate trials. The court thereupon proceeded to the trial of Fitzpatrick, the jury returning a verdict of guilty “without capital punishment." Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were entered, heard and overruled, and defendant sentenced to hard labor for life in the penitentiary at San Quentin, California. To review such judgment a writ of error was sued in forma pauperis.
Mr. A. B. Browne, Mr. Julius Kahn and Mr. Alexander Britton for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Solicitor General for the United States.
MR. JUSTICE Brown, after making the above statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
1. A suggestion is made by the government of a want of jurisdiction in this case, upon the ground that it is not of a “conviction of a capital crime” within section five of the Court of Appeals act of March 3, 1891, c. 517, 26 Stat. 826, as amended by act of January 20, 1897, c. 68, 29 Stat. 492, specifying the cases in which a writ of error may be issued directly to a District Court. It is clear, however, that, as section 5339 of the Revised Statutes inflicts the penalty of death for murder, the power given
Opinion of the Court.
the jury by the act of January 15, 1897, c. 29, 29 Stat. 487, to qualify the verdict of guilty by adding the words “without capital punishment,” does not make the crime of murder anything less than a capital offence, or a conviction for murder anything less than a conviction for a capital crime, by reason of the fact that the punishment actually imposed is imprisonment for life. The test is not the punishment which is imposed, but that which may be imposed under the statute. As was observed in In re Claasen, 140 U. S. 200, 205, with respect to infamous crimes under the Court of Appeals act prior to its amendment: “A crime which is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or penitentiary, as the crime of which the defendant was convicted, is an infamous crime whether the accused is or is not sentenced or put to hard labor; and that, in determining whether the crime is infamous, the question is, whether it is one for which the statute authorizes the court to award an infamous punishment, and not whether the punishment ultimately awarded is an infamous one." See also Ex parte Wilson, 114 U. S. 417, 426; Logan v. United States, 144 U. S. 263, 308; The Paquete Ilabana, 175 U. S. 677, 682; Motes v. United States, post. A conviction for murder, punishable with death, is not the less a conviction for a capital crime by reason of the fact that the jury, in a particular case, qualifies the punishment.
2. The first question raised by the plaintiff in error relates to the sufficiency of the indictment, which was for a violation of Rev. Stat., section 5339. This section, eliminating the immaterial clauses, declares that “every person who commits murder within any fort
or in any other place or district of country under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States
shall suffer death.” This section does not define the crime of murder, but prescribes its punishment.
By section seven of an act providing a civil government for Alaska, approved May 17, 1884, c. 53, 23 Stat. 24, it is enacted “that the general laws of the State of Oregon now in force are hereby declared to be the law in said district, so far as the same may be applicable and not in conflict with the provisions of this act or the laws of the United States." We are, therefore, to look to the law of Oregon and the interpretation put thereon
Opinion of the Court.
by the highest court of that State, as they stood on the day this act was passed, for the requisites for an indictment for murder rather than to the rules of the common law.
By Hill's Annotated Laws of Oregon, section 1268, c. 8, title 1, relating to criminal procedure, an indictment must contain:
“1. The title of the action, specifying the name of the court to which the indictment is presented, and the names of the parties;
“2. A statement of the acts constituting the offence, in ordinary and concise language, without repetition, and in such manner as to enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended."
In State v. Dougherty, 4 Oregon, 200, 205, the Supreme Court of that State had held that “the indictment should always contain such a specification, of acts and descriptive circumstances as will, upon its face, fix and determine the identity of the offence, and enable the court, by an inspection of the record alone, to determine whether, admitting the truth of the specific acts charged, a thing has been done which is forbidden by law.”
By section 1270, Hill's Laws, it is provided that “the manner of stating the act constituting the crime, as set forth in the appendix to this code, is sufficient, in all cases where the forms there given are applicable, and in other cases forms may be used as nearly similar as the nature of the case will permit;” and . in an appendix to this section the following form is given for murder: “And purposely and of deliberate and premeditated malice killed C. D. by shooting him with a gun or pistol, or by administering to him poison, or," etc.
It will be noticed that section 1270 only declares that the form given in the appendix is sufficient in all cases where the forms there given are applicable, but it does not purport to be exclusive of other forms the pleader may choose to adopt. It does not declare the insufficiency of other forms, but merely the sufficiency of those contained in the appendix. We are, therefore, remitted to section 1268 to inquire whether the indictment contains “a statement of the acts constituting the offence, in ordinary and concise language, without repetition,